Using the technique of decision analysis to evaluate data on single-modality and combined-modality therapy in Hodgkin's disease, we have been able to determine which treatment gives the best chance for prolonged disease-free survival in given settings. Both the potential of combined-modality therapy for inducing secondary hematologic malignancies and the rate of salvage with MOPP following relapse after radiotherapy have been studied to observe the effect of different rates of these variables on the therapeutic decision. An analysis of patients with known pathologic stage endorsed the continued use of extended-mantle radiotherapy for Stages IA and IIA disease; under most of the conditions analyzed, combined-modality therapy appeared the best option for Stage IIIA disease. The results for Stages IB and IIB disease showed neither combined-modality therapy nor total nodal irradiation to have a conclusive advantage. We also analyzed management decisions for patients who had not had pathologic staging. For this, probabilities of each pathologic stage were derived from a large patient data base and were incorporated into the decision analysis. The results of this analysis indicated that, despite the mortality of laparotomy, treatment designated according to pathologic stage was more effective than immediate combined-modality therapy for most types of patients. For certain patients in whom the clinical features could be used to predict a high probability of advanced disease, the most effective management was immediate MOPP chemotherapy without staging laparotomy.
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